Belfast Suitcase Stories was developed on the foundations of four years of previous work by ArtsEkta, a Belfast-based arts and cultural organisation that works to develop intercultural relationships at the heart of the community in partnership with Cara Friend, An Droichead, Belfast Islamic Centre and Northern Visions TV. The project brought together a group of the city’s younger and older citizens to explore and celebrate the great social diversity of Belfast. Over the course of several months, participants came together across a series of reflective artistic workshops to explore the nuances of their own identities, and where those identities fit into the new multicultural tapestry of the city, and its people. The physical legacy of the project was a multimedia and visual arts exhibition consisting of suitcases reimagined artistically to tell the individual stories of participants.
As explained by Artsekta, “Each ‘Suitcase Story’ represents a reflection of a life shared between different cultures and places, the story of how the participants have come to bridge their own cultural and civic identities, the story of their memories of the past and their hopes for the future. The suitcases themselves represent not just physical journeys, but also the inner journeys that the participants have travelled their experiences and perspectives of inclusion and integration into the city and its way of life. As Belfast matures into a truly intercultural city, the exhibition will include a variety of artistic pieces that reflect the perspectives of a wide spectrum of communities.”